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Sleeping sound at night is important for good health, both mental and physical. And if it gets interrupted and you are not able to doze off well, then it can pose serious risk to your well-being. Many of us believe that snoring is an indicator of sound sleep, when actually it is the sign of an underlying sleep disorder. The worst part is that you may also not know that you snore, until someone lets you know. But if you snore, it is something you must not ignore it.
Why snoring is a concern to watch out for?
Snoring is the most common symptom of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). And because of lack of awareness, we keep ignoring either our own snoring or that of our loved ones, not knowing it could be deeply impacting health.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep Apnea is a sleep associated breathing disorder which is characterized by pauses in breath during sleep. In Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), breathing pauses for multiple times at night due to the upper airway obstruction that restricts airflow in spite of respiratory effort. This leads to several physiological changes in the body throughout the night such as drop in oxygen levels in blood, increased respiratory effort and heart rate to name a few.
Why sleep apnea is harmful for health?
Sleep apnea has various harmful effects on the body. It contributes to the development of three major health lifestyle disorders if untreated, namely:
Hypertension: is an identifiable cause of hypertension, according to National Institute of Health. High prevalence of OSA is also found in in cardiovascular (heart) diseases (30-80%).
Diabetes: leads to insulin resistance. Over 50% of type 2 diabetes patients have been shown to have sleep apnea.
Obesity: It is a risk factor.
In addition to these, lack of good quality sleep can also result in poor alertness, memory, mood, behavior and even lead to like depression.
So, if you are suffering from any of these lifestyle disorders, it is advisable that you get yourself screened for Sleep Apnea too.
Who are at higher risk for sleep apnea?
As per various studies, males above 35 years of age have a higher risk of sleep apnea. Post- menopausal women are also at higher risk for sleep apnea. Smoking, alcohol intake, family history of sleep apnea and obesity are also risk factors of sleep apnea.
What are the signs of sleep apnea?
Excessive sleepiness during the day
Loud Snoring (with periods of silence followed by gasps)
What you should do if you witness any of these signs?
The very first thing is that you visit a ‘sleep specialist’ for diagnosis. The specialist will make you undergo a sleep test or polysomnography test in which measurement of your bodily functions including airflow, breathing and related parameters is done throughout the night. The test can be done in the comfort of your home or in the clinic.
Basis the diagnosis, the specialist will provide you CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy, an effective treatment for sleep apnea. In the therapy, a CPAP machine, manufactured by healthcare companies such as PHILIPS Respironics, is given to the patient for use. The CPAP machine, consisting of a device, humidifier and mask, prevents the upper airway from getting obstructed during sleep by providing a gentle flow of air through the upper airway, allowing the patient to breath freely and get sound, restful sleep.
PHILIPS Respironics’ each mask is designed to help the patient get relief through a combination of unique features and technologies that ensure the patient gets normal and natural experience as possible.
Sleeping in peace is very important. And if now someone tells you that you snore, or you watch any of your loved one snoring, don’t make fun but take the right step. Rush to a sleep specialist and get the sleep test done!
Numerous treatment options are used in obstructive sleep apnea. Avoiding alcohol and smoking is recommended, as is avoiding medications that relax the central nervous system. Weight loss is recommended in those who are overweight. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and mandibular advancement devices are often used and found to be equally effective. Physical training, even without weight loss, improves sleep apnea. There is insufficient evidence to support widespread use of medications or surgery.
Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. You may have sleep apnea if you snore loudly, and you feel tired even after a full night's sleep. The symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea are cardiac problems, stroke high blood pressure, Increased insulin resistance, memory problems etc. If you think you are suffering from any of the above symptom, then see your doctor.